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Letter: GBC Not Considering Allotments For New Residents On Weyside Urban Village

Published on: 19 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 19 Jan, 2021

The allotments at Bellfields.

From: Philippa Wright, chairman of the of the Guildford Allotment Co-operative Society Limited

In response to Cllr Potter’s letter (Check the reality of the Weyside allotments, not the fiction)

The Guildford Allotment Co-operative Society (GACSL)’s management committee (all unpaid) has worked with Guildford Borough Council (GBC) very amicably for the last 16 years managing 13 allotment sites on its behalf.

We have a duty of care to our landlord, of course, but we also have a duty of care on behalf of GBC to all existing tenants (currently 633 tenancies) and to all potential tenants (277 people have registered their interest in taking a plot).

GBC has a statutory duty to provide sufficient allotments. With GBC, we have been trying to identify additional sites for a number of years. No suitable sites have been identified other than the additional land adjacent to the Aldershot Road allotments [Westborough].

We have been pressing GBC to develop this land as allotments for at least five years. This has not been done despite the fact that it is part of the Guildford Strategic Plan.

Outline plan for the Weyside Urban Village.

The Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) plan has been under discussion for decades and during that time GACSL had come to the understanding with GBC that if / when it went ahead, a proportion of the current allotments would be retained as allotments. It came as a great surprise, therefore, that this understanding had not been taken into account when the Weyside Urban Village said it was taking all the plots.

Nevertheless, GACSL worked tirelessly with GBC over the last two and half years to ensure that the alternative provision was of equivalent specification to the existing sites. Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, it is difficult to find land suitable for allotments and the North Moors site is not of equivalent size.

By law, all existing tenants have to be offered a suitable alternative. It is natural their preference is to remain where they have spent years improving the soil and developing friendships.

It is appreciated that housing is very important and GACSL has never opposed this. However, and particularly in recent times, allotments are also important to the physical and mental health of those that use them. They are a source of fresh fruit and vegetables with minimum road or air miles.

In planning Weyside Urban Village, which includes apartments as part of the housing, no consideration has been given to the new residents who may want an allotment because there is no, or only tiny, garden space attached to their property.

For the number of homes being provided in this scheme, it is expected that there will be a significant additional demand, supply of which Guildford does not have.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: GBC Not Considering Allotments For New Residents On Weyside Urban Village

  1. Donna Collinson Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Allotments are good for our physical health, now researches are also proving allotment gardening is good for our mental health, self-esteem, and overall well being for all ages. Yet there aren’t enough of them. See links.

    https://metro.co.uk/2020/11/09/allotments-are-good-for-your-mental-health-says-research-13561715/

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283447227_A_case-control_study_of_the_health_and_well-being_benefits_of_allotment_gardening

    Large urban villages from Guildford’s Victorian Charlotteville to modern Goldsworth Park in Woking have fully subscribed residents allotments, with waiting lists.

    Keeping established existing allotments in Guildford’s new village proposal is very important, adding integrity to the “village” element of Weyside Urban Village.

    Guildford Borough Council has an exciting opportunity to factor new allotments into this development for future residents, where many homes will have little or no outside space/garden. This to help create a cohesive community, buildings friendships, including the children.

    Pewley Down School had its own school allotment where the children thrived, as much as the veg.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 20, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      It seems to be all set in stone and no one is listening.

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